Napa “plenty” spirit

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  • Free thought and anything goes mentality


  • OLD WORLD = Winery owners own their own land and produce from their land

    • Vineyards passed by blood and family, generation based
  • CALIFORNIA= anyone can have a winery, most buy grapes and a select few have their own vineyards

    • Movie directors, doctors, restaurant workers own wineries

  • California is dominated by Sierra Nevada and Mojave dessert. Hot and feritile with great irrigation. Known by Spanish as “calient fornalia” (hot oven).

  • Napa has over half the different soil types in the world

  • Fluvial and alluvial flats; Volcanic soils; optimal for wines


  • Maritime climate from pacific and san Pablo bay in the south.

  • Variations in temperatures from valleys, benchlands, to Mountains


  • In an area of 55-60mi long and 12 -15 miles wide there are about 20 sub AVA’s

  • Known for Cabernet; it hosts dozens of other varietals

Calistoga (pending)

  • Calistoga (pending)

  • Climate: Warm to hot depending upon time of year with lower humidity than down valley. Daytime summer temperatures peak above 100°F (37°C) and fall to low 40s°F (7°C) at night, the result of cool marine air drawn into the valley from the northwestern hills. Cool afternoon and evening breezes continue this process, and on clear nights are assisted by cold air sliding down the mountainsides to the valley floor.

  • Elevation: 300 to 1200 ft. (92 to 370m)

  • Rainfall: 23 to 60 inches (57.5 to 150 cm) annually

  • Soils: Almost completely of volcanic origin, soils in Calistoga range from rocky, stony loam on the hillsides, to gravelly or cobbly loams on the alluvial fans, to heavier clay-silt soils in the valley center areas.

  • Principal varieties and characteristics:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah: Cabernet is typified by rich powerful dark berry and sometimes “roasted” flavors with full structure and tannins capable of aging well. Zinfandel has notable black pepper flavors; spicy and very bright fruit. Syrah and Petite Sirah reveal dark blackberry and often cocoa or licorice overtones with firm structure


  • People of Napa

    • 1838 George Yount, an explorer settled in Napa where he was given 11,000 acres from the Mexican General Vallejo in repayment for services
    • 1864 one of his daugthers married Thomas Rutherford, and he received 1,000 acres
    • 1850-1880’s established himself as a serious wine grower
    • When Yount died much of the land was bought by Judge Hastings founder of Hastings University and sold some to senator Seneca Ewer who built BV winery, and to a Finish fur trader Gustav Niebaum
    • Capt. Gustav Niebaum
      • Fur trader working for Russian American CO.; was in right place at right time when merged Co. and became Alaskan Commercail Co
      • 1887 constructed Inglenook Winery
      • Phyloxera becomes an issue in late 1880’s
    • George de Latour
      • French Immigrant
      • Started business of cream tartare, bought vineyard next to Niebaum’s Inglenook winery
      • Brought french rootstock and sold it to many wineries which was resilient to phyloxera
      • Next draw back in Napa: Prohibition impeded many wineries but George had ties with catholic Church and contiued to make wine for the church
      • Started BV vineyards and brought Andre Tchelistcheff to America
    • Charles Krug
      • Newspaper man, first German Newspaper in California,
      • Came to carneros and opened Krug Winery
      • Became first wine consultant in California
      • 1st president of St’ Helena Wine Society which was created to destroy Phyloxera
      • Helped to create other societies which help unify Napa winemakers and today we have the Napa Vinters Sociaety
      • 1860’s started winery in St. Helena. Went on to train Karl Wente who moved to Lodi; Jacob Beringer who founded Beringer;
    • Robert Mondavi (June 18th 1913)
      • Born to Italian Immigrants worked for Krug winery
      • Later took over winery and after family dispute left the winery and bought a vineyard called To-Kalon. There he opened the Robert Mondavi Winery
      • Introduced dry style of Sauvignon Blanc and called it “Fume Blanc”
      • Acquired Woodbridge winery in Lodi. Gained much respect for premium wines
      • Partnered up with European winemakers, such as Baron Phillipe Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild and created the Opus One.
      • In 2004 constellation brands bought Mondavi for $1.36 billion dollars
    • Andre Tchelistcheff (Dec 7,1901- April 5 1994)
      • Russian immigrant worked in France and sought after by George Latour to consult in BV
      • Infuenced many winemakers and was mentor to Robert Mondavi & Louis Martini
      • Created the BV Private Reserve which became the benchmark for California wine
      • Contributed to techniques of frost preventioon, malo-lactic fermentation, cold fermentation and development of the wine regions of Carneros, California, Washington and Oregon.

Recent History

  • Prohibition, World War 2, Depression and Phyloxera put a halt to wine production

    • Few wineries such as BV, Charles Krug, Inglenook, Louis Martini continued to make excellent wines.
    • By 1960’s only 25 wineries operated in Napa; until Robert Mondavi came into the scene and bought the Krug winery. He started the wine renaissance in Napa.
  • PHYLOXERA : 1970’s growth in winemaking, UC Davis recommended AxR1 rootstock. Many chose to use this rootstock.

    • Other wine makers chose St. George rootstock.
    • Later they found out that phyloxera spread with the AxR1 and many needed to replant with St. George.
    • The irony of the Europeans using American rootstock and americans using European

    • 1974 Joseph Phelps makes the first “Meritage” and calls it Insignia
      • Meritage=blend of any two bordeaux varietals. In 1988 Vintners wanted a name for their wines that consisted of less than 75% of a single varietal. They had a contest and the name Merit and Heritage was put together to define these wines by other than “red Table Wine” It is not pernounced like the French pronounce “Mirage”; it’s more like “Heitage”
    • 1976 Paris tasting brings napa into the world eye. Napa wines stand up to the French wines and are chosen over the French in blind tasting
    • Stag’s Leap Cellars “Fay”; Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, & Ridge “Montebello” were among the standouts
    • Napa is now taken seriously
    • Napa becomes one of the most expensive lands to have vineyards
    • Diamond Creek Sauvignon Lake ’87, the 1st California wine over $100 and costs $200/btl
    • Old world starts to make a move in Napa and many partnberships start with old world countries e.g… Mondavi & Mouton Rothschild; Chandon starts making sparkling wines
    • Winemakers start to pop up and receive high status:
      • Hiedi Barret, Helen Turley, David Abreu, Domitri Tchelistcheff, David Ramey, Mike Grgich, Philipe Melka and Cathy Corison
    • Cult wineries emerge throughout Napa:
      • Colgin, David Abreu, Lokoya, Diamond Creek, Screaming Eagle, Bacio civino Cellars, Grace Family, La Sirena, Selene, Vineyard 29, Hundred Acres and Harlan are just a few
  • Napa was founded on high yield overproduced box wines, and only in the last 20 years have we seen an increase in high end wines and now provides some of the world’s most expensive wines


  • Bedrock is the parent material of surface soil

  • The diversity of bedrock and other materials contributes to the diversity of sediment and soils which are the direct foundation of the grapevine

  • Bedrock is the ultimate source of chemical and mineral elements of soils

  • The transformation and evolution from bedrock to sediments and soils directly affects the vine’s physical environment and quality of grape

  • 145 million years ago: Tectonic plates shift, scraping ocean floor upward as chains of volcanoes emerge in the Pacific region.

  • 24 million years ago: The Mayacamas Mountains formed as the Pacific and North American plates met and dragged the San Andreas Fault northward. This event results in the formation of microenvironments/topographies: valley floor, benchlands, and mountains

  • Within the last 5 million years “Napa Volcanics” and erosion deposit a great variety of materials on the surface of the Napa Valley creating soil.

Napa Valley Appellations

  • Los Carneros

  • Climate: Cool, prevailing marine winds from the San Pablo Bay and ideal for sparkling wine grape production and cooler climate varietals.

  • Elevation: 15 to 400 ft. (4.6 to124 m)

  • Soils: Clay dominated, very shallow in general, with more loam and hillside alluvials in the northern section. Yields typically are restrained by the hard claypan subsoil, which prevents deep-rooting.

  • Principal varieties & characteristics:

  • Chardonnay: minerally pear-apple and spice flavors.

  • Merlot: Lightly herbal, with fine tannins and sleek structure.

  • Pinot Noir: ripe cherry-cinnamon spice flavors with earthy notes


  • Oakville

  • Climate: Moderately warm, with temperatures commonly in the mid-90°F range in high summer, but also still strongly affected by night and early morning fog which helps keep acidity levels good. East side of the AVA receives more of warmer afternoon sun.

  • Elevation: 75 to 500 ft (23 to 150 m)

  • Rainfall: 35 inches (87.5 cm) annually

  • Soils: Primarily sedimentary gravelly alluvial loams on the western side, with more volcanic but heavier soils on the eastern side. Low to moderate fertility and fairly deep, with average water retention.

  • Principal varieties & characteristics:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot: Ripe currant and mint flavors, rich texture and full, firm structure tempered by rich fruit.

  • Sauvignon Blanc: Full, steely, yet very fleshy, and not especially crisp

Spring Mountain

  • Spring Mountain

  • Climate: Spring Mountain is similar to Mt. Veeder AVA, with cool weather prevailing and smaller diurnal changes. Fairly cool nights and higher elevations help maintain good acidity.

  • Elevation: 600 to 2200 ft (184 to 675 m)

  • Rainfall: 40 to 50 inches (125 cm) annually

  • Soils: Primarily sedimentary; weathered sandstone/shale, loamy and crumbly in texture. Drainage is high, fertility low.

  • Principal varieties & characteristics:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel: Powerful, firm, blackberry-currant flavors and often richly tannic, with excellent acidity for aging.

  • Chardonnay, Viognier: Firm and not as fruity as those of the valley floor, revealing more citrus and stone fruit flavors.

Mount Veeder

  • Mount Veeder

  • Climate: Cool to moderate, with most vineyards above the fog-line, meaning warmer nights and cooler days and less diurnal range than the valley floor. Typical mid-summer high temperatures about 85°F (30°C).

  • Elevation: 600 to 2100 ft. (183 to 650 m)

  • Soils: Sedimentary based, former seabed, shallow and generally well drained, as well as more acidic, with low fertility. Most have a sandy or sandy-loam texture.

  • Principal varieties & characteristics: Ageability is a hallmark of Mt. Veeder wines.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay: minerally, appley, even citrus flavors with good acidity.

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